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Cannes Review: 'Footloose' In Ireland? With 'Jimmy's Hall,' Ken Loach Matches History With Entertainment

Cannes Review: 'Footloose' In Ireland? With 'Jimmy's Hall,' Ken Loach Matches History With Entertainment

The social realist tendencies in British director Ken Loach's films started nearly half a century ago, so it's easy to forget that no matter his penchant for tackling serious issues with historical weight, he's also capable of crafting smooth entertainment—especially with his recent comedies "Looking for Eric" and "The Angels' Share"—without sacrificing their credibility and intelligence. At 77, Loach hasn't lost touch with this balance, as proven by his enjoyable period drama "Jimmy's Hall." Though it features a dramatic scenario involving the censorship of a small Irish town in the early thirties, Loach manages to enliven potentially stuffy material with lively storytelling and likable personalities. Chief among them is real-life Irish communist Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward), who challenged the religious community in the provincial country town he grew up by creating a gathering place for locals to dance and engage in intellectual discussion. Naturally, that decision doesn't sit well.

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